Q. I am curious...how many wood cells are in a cubic inch of wood?

A. The typical cell is about 1/1000 of an inch in diameter and 1/10 of an inch long. The cells are hollow tubes. The cell wall is actually 1-1/2 times heavier than water, but it is the hollow, air-filled spaces that make wood float. There are a few species of wood, such as ipe or Brazilian cherry, that are so dense (thick walls and very little hollow space) that do not float.

There are also bacteria that can get in the base of a living tree and these bacteria eliminate the air and fill the hollow space with water so that the bottom log from that tree will not float. In fact, it is these bacterially infected logs that are on the bottom of lakes, ponds and rivers and are sometimes logged today after 100 years under water. The bacteria make wood smell, make wood quite weak and can discolor the wood too, so such sunken logs may have quality issues for some products. (I digress--at my age, you either preach or reminisce.) The answer is “about 4 million, give or take, depending on species.”

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